Higher education challenges | Teachers await incentives

Higher education in Pakistan
June 23: Higher education in Pakistan is facing many challenges which include the total number of universities, enrolment of students, gender based equity, quality of teaching and research, institutional governance, curriculum and violence in institutions.

The total number of universities and degree awarding institutions in both public and private sectors is 130 for the population size of 170 million which is quite less than required. Although, the preceding government had established many new institutions, yet the need is not satisfied and every district should at least have one university. There are many districts in Pakistan where no higher education institution is available and many students who cannot afford to go to other places abandon their studies due to unavailability of universities in their home districts.

In addition, the number of students in the higher education sector is very low. There are only a little more than 700,000 students with less than 4 percent of the total population. Though enrolment of females in the universities has increased to 10 percent, yet it is alarmingly at a very low level. Only 400,000 female students were enrolled against a population of 86 million women according to mid 2009 estimates. The poor representation of the 51 percent population of the nation in higher education demands emergent steps to rectify the situation.

Furthermore the quality of our existing institutions in terms of teaching and research cannot be compared with the rest of the developing world, let alone the developed world. The quality of research is even worse than our teaching standard. It is a common practice in our universities to carry out fake research based on trivial results and sometimes on plagiarism. The biggest fault of our research is its non-linkage with social and societal system without which our society cannot get benefit from the efforts of our research, even if it is a genuine and scholarly work.

Another challenge is that the government and funding agencies as they sometimes dictate the institutions which makes them less productive. Moreover the universities are administered in a bureaucratic leadership style which does not provide enough space for the people to participate with vigour and enthusiasm that leads to dissatisfaction in among faculty members and students. The overall environment is not at all progressive. There is no second opinion that a liberal environment is a prerequisite if we want our system to be productive.

Finally, a very important aspect of our university life is the violence and unrest caused by our students. The biggest cause of this nonsense phenomenon is incessant interference of political parties in our institutions for the sake of their political gains. The government should take concrete steps to eradicate all sort of political interference in our institutions, be it from radical and conservative religious groups or from liberal and progressive political parties. The higher education institutions are for education only and these should not be the battlegrounds of political conflicts. Any political party, which has a student wing functional in universities, must be advised to avoid such practices through legal and constitutional bindings.

The writer is a professor at the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore and currently research fellow at the Monash University, Australia. -By Dr Tauseef Aized

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Teachers await promised incentives
Islamabad: Lack of will in bureaucracy and the procedural delays have marred the introduction of new service structure for teaching staff in the Federal Capital, an initiative (taken by the teaching community) to restore teachers' morale and self-esteem.

There has been no specific policy with regard to promotion of teachers at 435 schools of the Capital while all the provincial governments have announced special packages for the teaching community. In Punjab, new service structure for schoolteachers was introduced in September 2007 while NWFP government upgraded their teaching posts in October in the same year while Balochistan and AJK governments elevated the status of schoolteachers in 2008.

In Pakistan Metric Trained Teacher (MTT) are kept in BPS-09 and Trained Undergraduate Teacher (TUGT) are given BPS-14. The emoluments of the primary teacher hardly offers a worthwhile incentive for performing at the optimum level," lamented a teacher. The introduction of new service structure for teaching staff in educational institution situated in the capital was approved on August 21, 2007 by the government.

According to the proposal the minimum qualification of primary teachers will be B.A/B.Sc. with preference for B.Ed. They may be placed in BS-16 and re-designated as Junior Lady Teachers. Similarly, minimum qualification for teachers at secondary level was decided to be M.A/M.Sc. They may be redesignated as Lecturers and placed in BS-17.

Earlier, the case for the up-gradation of the posts of teaching staff was referred to the Finance Division for their concurrence but the Finance Division referred it to the Establishment Division. Education Ministry had proposed the implementation of the new service structure for the teachers from July 1 but due to the delaying tactics by the officials of the ministries the decision was not implemented.

As the teaching posts in ICT institutions are in low grades, the candidates from Sindh, Balochistan and even from NWFP do not find any attraction in these posts due to which provincial quota posts of these provinces mostly remain vacant for years.

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QAU VC, HEC served notices in academic's promotion case
Islamabad: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has issued notices to Vice Chancellor (VC) Quaid-i-Azam University and Higher Education Commission (HEC) in a writ petition filed by an Assistant Professor of the university regarding his promotion.

Justice Raja Saeed Akram directed the respondents to file their para wise comments within two weeks and adjourned the hearing.

As per details, the petitioner Dr Syed Anwar Iqbal, Assistant Professor of Anthropology department of the university moved the court through his counsel Advocate Mushtaq Hussain and made Quaid-i-Azam University through its Vice Chancellor and Higher Education Commission (HEC) Pakistan through its chairman respondents in the case.

In his petition, Dr Syed Anwar stated that he applied for the post of associate professor of Anthropology at the university in response to an advertisement in national media and according to procedure a departmental committee was constituted which was responsible to scrutinize the applicants' dossier.

He added that after the scrutiny, the dossier was sent to the dean Faculty of Social Sciences for his remarks but the then Dean Prof Zafar Iqbal Cheema instead of participating in scrutiny went on leave for a few days and passed on this file to Prof Naveed-i-Rahat as an acting dean who wrote very negative and pessimistic remarks and disqualified the applicant on age of previous ten years long personal based enmity of Dr Naveed-i-Rahat with the petitioner.

Dr Anwar continued that when this dossier reached the VC, he was shocked to notice Dr Naveed's participation in this scrutiny procedure and sent his dossier to foreign experts.

He informed the court that later, the selection board, in view of foreign experts' reports and his vast experience in the field of Anthropology, selected him as associate professor.

He further added that the syndicate of the university deferred his selection with the comments to have a review on his validity of score of publications.

He prayed in his petition that respondents No 2 be directed to submit his judicious comments on the petitioner's publication in the light of comments received from international experts.

He further prayed that respondents No 1 may be directed to approve his promotion on the basis of report of selection board with all back benefits. The Nation

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Preston University Convocation
Islamabad: Senate Chairman Farooq H Naek will be chief guest at the 32nd convocation of Preston University on June 23. This mega event will be held at Jinnah Convention Centre, said a press release issued here. Bachelors and masters degrees will be conferred upon more than 350 graduates at the convocation. Gold medallions and merit certificates will also be awarded to the graduates who have stood first in their respective fields of specialisation. The News

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